Stanford Cardinal (2-0 SU, 2-0 ATS) vs. Arizona Wildcats (1-1 SU, 1-1 ATS), 10:45 p.m. EST, College Football Week 3, Saturday, September 17, 2011, Arizona Stadium, Tucson Arizona, TV: ESPN
by Scotty L, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Stanford -10/AZ +10
On Saturday night in Tucson, The Stanford Cardinal take on the Arizona Wildcats. You know you are getting into the meat of the college football season when you start seeing matchups like this between longtime conference adversaries. Arizona won in 2009 in a 43-38 shootout where QB Nick Foles went crazy (40-51-415-3-0). A much better Cardinal team took last years game, 42-17. The sixth-ranked Cardinal look to go to 3-0 this week in the rubber match between Foles and leading Heisman candidateStanford QB Andrew Luck.
Stanford has been lethal this year, though somewhat predictably so, against the likes of San Jose State and Duke. They outscored those 2 teams by a combined score of 101-17, leading to a pair of easy covers. Luck is typically productive against this squad, passing for 772 yards in their last two meetings.
Foles has also done well against Stanford, but numbers can be misleading. This past Saturday, for example, they were soundly beaten at Oklahoma State by a score of 37-14. Foles threw for almost 400 yards and zero interceptions, but still could only manage 2 touchdowns. The third-year 65 starter is a statistical monster this year, completing 71 of 93 passes for 810 yards and 6 touchdowns with no picks, but the point-output doesnt always match the glistening stats. In fact, the Wildcats have lost 5 of their last 7 games going back to last season.
Stanford lost some big playmakers and their head coach Jim Harbaugh, but dont expect much deterioration. The offense seems to be in good hands with Harbaugh disciple and new head coach David Shaw running the show. Stanford is in position to do some special things this season. Luck is spreading the ball around. Hes the superstar, with a big cast of supporting players. RB Stephan Taylor (15 touchdowns in 10) is back, but their diverse set of options is a particular strength of this team.
In 2009, Arizona put up 43 against Stanford. That total dipped to 17 last year. Look for a Stanford Dthat is closer in form to last seasons performance. Nick Foles is capable of moving the ball and putting up numbers, but the Stanford defense should be able to handle mid-level Pacific-12 teams. Whether they cope with teams like Oregon is another issue, but other than that, one shouldnt look for this defense to get dominated much this year.
Foles hurt his knee in the loss to Oklahoma State and is listed as probable. Its just another cause for concern, but expect him to be pumped up and ready to play in this big home game. Among the variety of possible theories is that this is a bad timing game for Arizona. They have established a downward trajectory as of late and are now facing a top team and a quarterback on a mission.
One could withhold hope that Foles will be able to wreak some havoc on a Cardinal defense that hasnt really been tested. They are at home and they could be due for a good game. The Wildcat D didnt seem so great against the Cowboys last week, but could also benefit from being at home. While not as robust as a few seasons ago, this Dhas not given up more than 30 points at home since Oregon turned the trick back in 2009. Getting 10 points, that scenario could bode well for the Wildcats.
Scotty Ls Pick: In the last two quarters and change against Duke on Saturday, Stanford outscored the Blue Devils 34-7. Deep in the 2nd quarter, backers of Duke had to be feeling good, but Stanford just took them apart in the second half. Saturdays game could see a similar path. Look for Arizona to hang in there, until the superiority of Stanford takes hold in the second half. You never like to lay double-digits on the road, especially in a conference game. But the ten-point spread seems negotiable for a team on Stanfords level against an Arizona team that is trying to find its bearings. Take Stanford minus ten points.
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